Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fossils May Reveal New Human Species

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fossils May Reveal New Human Species

Article excerpt

Fossils unearthed in an ancient cave in Spain show that a heretofore unknown species of human was the last common ancestor of both Neanderthals and modern Homo sapiens, researchers said Thursday.

The scientists described the ancestor as a tall, lanky being who looked much like today's humans except for his protruding brow and heavy jaw.

The discovery of "Homo antecessor" - who hunted rhinoceroses, elephants and other game about 800,000 years ago in what is now Spain - could prompt experts to redraw the human family tree, a Spanish anthropological team said. But many paleontologists were not yet prepared to accept Homo antecessor as a distinct species. Dr. Fred Smith, a paleoanthropologist at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb who specializes in European hominids, said the new fossils were "interesting and important, but fairly fragmentary stuff and insufficient evidence for a new species." Although some researchers question whether the fossils indeed represent a new species, their unquestioned antiquity is certain to provoke much discussion about the dissemination of hominids - the scientific term for two-legged mammals - from their first home in Africa. The new findings, which were to be published today in the American journal Science, support the theory that the human family tree has many branches - instead of running along a single line - and that present-day humans share ancestors with humanlike beings who eventually went extinct, the researchers said Thursday. The Spanish scientists dug up 50 fossilized specimens from at least six individuals during excavations in the summers of 1995 and 1996, in the Atapuerca hills of northern Spain. The scientists eventually realized they had found missing pieces of the human evolutionary puzzle, said Jose Luis Arsuaga of Madrid's Complutense University, one of the six scientists on the anthropological team. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.